I am currently browsing through the draft of British Standard BS 8723: Structured vocabularies for information retrieval, part 3 (Vocabularies other than thesauri) and 4 (Interoperability between vocabularies). I must confess that reading standards is mostly a pain, especially this old-fashioned pre-web standards in information retrieval. I tried to find out the ancestors of BS 8723 but it took me almost hours. There are dozen of poorly documented related standards and versions (BS 5723, BS 6723, ISO 2788, ISO 5964, DIN 1463, ANSI/NISO Z39.19, AFNOR Z 47 etc.) and most of them are not freely available (and the only available standards are paper-centered PDF instead of web-centered HTML/XML). A standard that is not accesible is pretty worthless! I often complain about the Semantic Web community that ignores most of traditional information retrieval – but they understandably ignore previous results: If traditional information retrieval has not even achieved to visibly and clearly document its own standards on the web – what is it worth for? A general overhaul is necessary: SKOS and collaborative tagging are only two representatives of this change. I fear that BS 8723 will not be part of the new times unless it becomes available Hypertext.
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